Last night my boyfriend almost died | How to help when someone is choking

This isn’t one of those ‘clickbait’ articles – I never though I’d be writing a post like this.

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Last night was truly the most terrifying experience of my entire life.

Chris and I got in from a shift at work at about midnight, and Chris had picked up some food on the way home. Chris is currently on a batch of steroids to help stabilise the effects of his Crohn’s Disease and has recently had a really big appetite, in complete contrast to what he usually eats. It’s been fabulous to see him finish plates of food and come back and forth from the fridge.

We got in, I poured myself a glass of red and Chris sat down on the floor and began eating. I was casually scrolling Instagram and sipping my wine when I looked up. Chris was looking at me, sheer terror across his face. He was choking.

I got up and started banging on his back, but nothing was happening. Saliva began to pour from his mouth and his nose, and I could hear that he couldn’t breathe, and that his airway was completely closed.

I began to give him the Heimlich manoeuvre, and I saw some food come out from his mouth, but he was still choking, still not breathing. I continued to give the Heimlich manoeuvre several times over. More saliva was coming and was now bloody. Chris had his fingers down his to remove the rest of the food that was still blocking his airway. His face had completely ballooned up, eyes bulging, he was blue. This was the point in time where I realised that Chris was going to die unless his airway was cleared soon. It had been around 3 minutes without breath. Then 4. Panicking, I knew that all sorts could start to happen after so long without oxygen – brain damage, etc.

I screamed up the stairs for his parents and began to ring for an ambulance. The operator gave me advice on what to do and I relayed this to his parents who had taken over the banging on his back and Heimlich-ing. The operator told me to tell him to cough as hard as he could, and administer 5 back blows with the heel of the hand between his shoulder blades.

By this point, Chris was on his hands and knees and more food had come up from his throat. I could hear the ambulance and went outside to find them. In the meantime, the operator told us to put Chris in the recovery position.

By the time the paramedics got into the living room, his airways were clear and he was breathing, shallow, but breathing.

The paramedics cancelled another ambulance as apparently it is the norm to send 2 out for choking incidents.

They checked him over – listened to his chest, checked his airway, took his blood pressure. Asked how long he wasn’t breathing for. Thankfully they said that they didn’t think anything had gone into his lungs.

I’m writing this  because it could happen to anyone at any time and I want everyone to be aware of what to do in the situation – last night could have ended very differently.

I could tell instantly that this wasn’t just a case of ‘something going down the wrong way’ – his face was almost ‘stuck’ – he looked terrified and helpless.

The NHS advice for choking is listed on this page and I urge you ALL to please, please, please read it. It could save someone’s life one day.

If the airway is only partially blocked, the person will usually be able to speak or cough or attempt to clear their throat. Get them to cough as hard as they can. If this doesn’t shift anything, begin back blows with the heel of your hand between their shoulder blades. 

If, like Chris, and their airway is completely blocked, get the person to lean forward slightly administer back blows. Again, begin the Heimlich manoeuvre/abdominal thrusts. 

Stand behind the person who is choking.

Place your arms around their waist and bend them forward.

Clench one fist and place it right above their belly button.

Put the other hand on top of your fist and pull sharply inwards and upwards.

Repeat this movement up to five times.

If this has not cleared the airway, call 999 immediately. Keep administering the cycles of back blows and abdominal thrusts until the paramedics arrive. 

I can’t explain how thankful I am to the 999 operator who spoke to me and kept me so calm while helping Chris, and to the ambulance and paramedics who arrived so quickly. I feel truly indebted. I am so grateful.

Hopefully, none of you will go through what we all did last night, but I hope you can all take a minute to read the advice on choking and what to do when it occurs.

This morning, Chris is absolutely fine – just a bit sore all over.

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17 thoughts on “Last night my boyfriend almost died | How to help when someone is choking

  1. Oh my goodness lovely, this sounds truly terrifying – I always gobble my food down and always breath and get things stuck, this makes me think I should chew A LOT MORE! I’m so glad your other half is now ok.
    Bee xxx

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  2. That sounds absolutely terrifying. I can’t imagine what you both must have been feeling at the time. Well done for staying so calm and working to help the situation, and I’m so glad Chris is okay. It’s awesome that you’ve written this post to help others and make something good out of a horrible event – I’m really proud of you.

    Sophie xx | http://www.cosybean.co.uk

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  3. This gave me goosebumps to read! So glad he’s ok and I can’t imagine how scary that would have been. Sounds like you acted really quickly and calmly and it’s great that you have written down this advice xx

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  4. That’s so scary Rhian! I’m so sorry to hear this happened but really glad Chris is okay too. I have so much respect for you turning such a scary experience into something informative too – I hope this post helps a lot of people!

    xx

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  5. I teared up reading this just thinking about it happening to Jamie so I can’t imagine how you were feeling! I’m so glad Chris is okay and well done for staying so calm you were amazing! I didn’t have a clue what to do if someone was choking before this so thanks for writing about it!xox

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  6. Just took my boyfriend and I through the abdominal thrusts info, because that sounds petrifying! Well done for staying calm and doing what you needed to do, it could be so easy to freeze in that situation xxx

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  7. I am Chris’ Mammy. Rhian saved his life last night. There are no words to express how we feel. It was terrifying but because of her we survived – she didn’t just save Chris – she saved a family. Eternal gratitude
    .

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  8. Oh my gosh, I had goose bumps reading this. You hear of people choking but never think it will be you or someone you know. Thank you for sharing your experience so we now all have a little more knowledge should we ever need it! x

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  9. I’ve only just come across your blog, but had to leave a comment – what a terrifying experience that must have been for all of you. I knew of the Heimlich manoeuvre and the gist of how to do it, but wasn’t completely clued up until reading your post, so thank you for sharing this. I’m glad to hear that Chris is feeling okay now and I hope he feels a lot better soon!

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  10. What a horrible experience to go through for all of you! But I’m so happy to hear that he’s okay, and thank you for sharing and create awareness. We often forget how important it is to be able to do cpr or the heimlich until we’re in a moment when someone’s life is depending on it.

    Hope you’re all much better now xx
    Tess

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  11. This is honestly one of the best posts I have ever read and such a good thing that you wrote it. I had a very similar experience two weeks ago. I work with children in a nursery – the babies. Little girl just turned one was eating her lunch and she didn’t cry, didn’t make a sound she just looked at me, I knew straight away that something was not right, she slowly began to turn blue I placed her front down and also administered the back blows and luckily the food came up in one. She was terrified and to be quite honest, so was I but adrenaline kicked in and I knew if I didn’t do something this little girl could die. I’m just so thankful I did my first aid training!

    http://www.throughthemirror.co.uk

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  12. This is honestly one of the best posts I have ever read and such a good thing that you wrote it. I had a very similar experience two weeks ago. I work with children in a nursery – the babies. Little girl just turned one was eating her lunch and she didn’t cry, didn’t make a sound she just looked at me, I knew straight away that something was not right, she slowly began to turn blue I placed her front down and also administered the back blows and luckily the food came up in one. She was terrified and to be quite honest, so was I but adrenaline kicked in and I knew if I didn’t do something this little girl could die. I’m just so thankful I did my first aid training!

    http://www.throughthemirror.co.uk

    Like

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